|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 20g||7%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 20g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Kohakutou is a Japanese sweet that looks strikingly like a crystal or gemstone. The gummy candy can be used to decorate cakes, cupcakes, and other desserts, or simply enjoyed as a sweet treat. While the edible crystals look impressive, they're actually quite easy to make and only take a few ingredients.
These gummy candies are made of a mixture of sugar, water, and agar agar—a powdered substance made from red algae. When combined with liquid and heated, agar agar thickens and becomes jelly-like. We prefer the Telephone brand of agar agar as it produces a clear crystal candy and sets up nicely. Because kohakutou are made without gelatin, they're also vegan.
You can color your crystals all one shade, make a few different color crystals, or create swirls and patterns. Liquid food coloring works best, and you can add a candy flavoring of your choice. After setting up in the fridge, it's fun to cut and carve the candy into crystal shapes. While you can enjoy them right away, let them sit out for a few days to form a crust on the outside—they'll stay nice and soft on the inside.
“This recipe is very simple, with just a few ingredients! I really enjoyed cutting the jelly into different crystal shapes and loved how they all turned out unique. This can be a great family activity as you create the most beautiful candies, perfect for gifting. I used green apple flavoring and they turned out delicious!” —Bahareh Niati
Cooking spray, for greasing
4 teaspoons agar agar, preferably Telephone brand
1 3/4 cups cool water
3 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon clear candy flavoring, optional
3 to 6 drops liquid food coloring
Gather the ingredients.
Prepare an 8-x 8-inch glass or metal square pan with smooth sides (or a few small pans to make different color crystals) by spraying lightly with cooking spray.
Stir to combine the agar agar and water in a medium saucepan. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Place the agar agar mixture over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until it has completely dissolved and the mixture thickens, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the sugar and cook, stirring constantly, until it has completely dissolved and the mixture is thick and syrupy, about 3 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Add the candy flavoring, if using, and stir to combine. If making a single color of crystals, add the food coloring to the pan and stir. To make multiple colors, work quickly to divide the mixture between bowls. Add food coloring to each bowl, stirring to combine.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pan(s). Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Run a thin knife or offset spatula around the edges of the pan. Flip the pan over onto a parchment-lined baking sheet, then tap to dislodge the jelly. If the jelly is stubborn, cut it into chunks and remove those from the pan instead.
Use a sharp paring knife to cut the jelly into crystal shapes, trimming as desired. The jelly will be firm but sticky. You can also tear the jelly to form jagged edges.
Enjoy the crystals right away or let the crystals sit to form an outer crust (the inside will stay gummy).
If enjoying later so that the crystals form this seal, spread the edible crystals onto the parchment-lined sheet and let sit at room temperature for 12 hours, then flip and let sit for 12 more hours or up to 3 days total before using and storing.
There are plenty of ways to customize these edible crystals:
- Layers: create layers of color by mixing up to three colors in separate bowls. Add the first color to the prepared pan and place it in the fridge for 3 to 5 minutes, just until beginning to set up. Stir the remaining colors every minute or so to prevent forming a skin. Add the second color on top and chill again. Add the final color and chill for an hour before cutting into crystals.
- Swirls: Create swirls of color by leaving the mixture clear or coloring it lightly with just a drop or two of food coloring. Add to the pan, then add several drops of food coloring spaced out on top. Use a skewer or toothpick to swirl it into the mixture, leaving a pattern.
- Sparkle: Add a small amount of edible luster to the mixture or paint the edges of the cut crystals with edible luster paint or even gold leaf.
Play with the flavors of these edible crystal candies by using different candy flavorings. Citrus flavorings or oils work well, as do fun flavors like cotton candy. A clear flavoring works best since it won't interfere with the color.
How to Store
Once the crystals have formed a crust, move them to an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to a week. Do not freeze.